Here’s to all the casual explorers, the infrequent flyers, and international pedestrians. Cheers to life!

Iceland – To do in Akureyri

Akureyri unique cabin from Airbnb, Iceland Budget Travel

Akureyri is the second biggest city in Iceland and located in the center of the northern coastline. I am here to make the case for visiting Akureyri in winter and what you can do there. The biggest reason for visiting is that it gets you away from Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, and the southeastern coast. With fewer options to go inland for hiking and camping, but still a large number of tourists, these areas are insanely busy. The north, northeast, and eastern sides of Iceland tend to be quieter as they are harder to reach. My friend, who drove the ring road, said her favorite part of the entire trip was driving through the north and northeastern parts of country because it was beautiful and less busy. You also have a likelier chance of booking unique accommodations that are still available. Here are some other things to do in the north:

THE DRIVE ITSELF

GoogleMaps says it takes 4.5 hours from Reykjavik to Akureyri, but I would plan on closer to 6 hours, once you stop at all the incredible vistas and take in the sites. The drive itself is absolutely stunning it is worthwhile to see a different topography than the south coast. If the weather is holding and you have plenty of time to get to Akureyri, you could stop by or make a detour to visit an outdoor swimming pool or hot pot. Check out this website to see where hot pots and swimming pools are located. Here are a few pictures of the drive to and from Akureyri.

 

PET HORSES

Not sure if this is completely legal, but it is an absolute delight find a very safe area to pull over to pet the horses. The Icelandic horses are majestic furry beings that withstand the freezing winds throughout the day. I nearly screamed with joy when we stopped to visit a few Icelandic horses. They are furry and adorable up close as they are far away. They do like to nibble and unsure if vegan snacks would be appropriate, we erred on the safe side and did not feed them anything. So precious, my heart exploded!

 

VISIT Goðafoss

If you do not yet have gorgeous waterfall fatigue, I highly recommend visiting Goðafoss, which is another 45 minute drive out of Akureyri. We hit Goðafoss at sunset, when the sky turned pink and purple. The falls themselves are absolutely stunning, plus while we were there, we only saw about 7 other people – a feat compared to the dozens of people at the sites along the south coast.

 

VISIT MYVATN

Although we didn’t make it to Myvatn, I imagine it would be delightful to warm up after a day of exploring and petting horses. Check out my blog post about lagooning in winter for my thoughts about the Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and other hot spring type experiences.

AURORA HUNTING

Take the opportunity of being so far north to get an Airbnb a bit out of town for some quality views of the Northern Lights. Check out my Aurora Huntress post for tips. We saw the Aurora Borealis from a distance, while we stayed near Akureyri. A picture of our unique accommodations (and best host ever!) is at the top of this post.

GO SKIING

Another item that we were unable to do during our short visit to Akureyri is skiing. I researched and found out that Akureyri is one of the best locations to go skiing in the country. Not necessarily a great location for challenging double or triple black diamond runs, I think it would be a unique experience to ski without many trees – just imagine how much you could see!! And great snow, of course.

CATCH A SHOW

Also a contender for the best-designed event venue is the Hof Cultural and Conference Center. Be sure to check the listings to see if something peaks your interest. It is located right on the water of the bay, its location is as well thought out as its design.

ENJOY COFFEE

Since you’re going to have a long day outside or have been outside for a while, slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee at a coffee shop in town. We tried to go to the Botanic Garden, but it was not open in winter (still a beautiful building) and instead visited Te & Kaffi right downtown. This was a pleasant surprise of locals – teenage girls studying for class, a family with two little girls drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream, and two older gentlemen reading the newspaper.

 

 

What other things did I miss in the north during winter?

Happy travels,

Hanna

Coffee Shop, Akureyri, Iceland


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